You certainly don’t need to eat anywhere else these days. East London has long been home to the best (and most affordable) global cuisine. You want to best lamb sheesh kebab? Ask the Turkish chefs at Mangal2, an ocakbasi restaurant on Arcola Street in Dalston. The best Indian? Try the kadhai gosht at Needoo in Whitechapel. The best bánh mì baguette? Try Kêu! On Old Street, a funky canteen that’s a neat update of the Vietnamese restaurants that line Shoreditch’s Kingsland Road.

Description: the Vietnamese restaurants that line Shoreditch’s Kingsland Road

the Vietnamese restaurants that line Shoreditch’s Kingsland Road

Meanwhile, a new wave of East London restaurants has taken things upmarket – without compromising on the area’s bohemian charm. Adventurous dining no longer means asking the guy at the kebab shop for extra chilli sauce. Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes serves molecular gastronomy in unpretentious surroundings at Viajante in Bethnal Green – how does squid ink porridge with basil oil and squid sous-vide sound?

Description: The Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge

Or try Ombra Bar and Restaurant, a Venetian-style bacaro that has become the favourite lunch spot of the artists and gallerists who inhatbit Vyner Street in Hackney. Don’t expect airs and graces; the wine comes in tumblers, the bread comes in paper bags, and the menu is two of three items chalked up on a board. However, the welcome is hearfelt and the waitress charming. After a couple of Negroni cocktails, even the humble old Regent’s Canal begins to look as romantic as the Rialto.

East London has also become home to a new breed of distinctly English restaurateurs. Jamie Oliver, the now-unbiquitous TV chef, was ahead of the curve when he opened his restaurant, Fiffteen, in Hoxton in 1998. Since then, the revolution in British cooking has exploded eastwards. Fergus Henderson’s bone marrow on toast, which he serves up at two of his St JOHN restaurants in Farringdon and Spitalfields, has become a legend in its own right. Or try the meat platters at Brawn, a 21st-century take on the pub near Columbia Road flower market.

Perhaps the area’s culinary credentials are best expressed at breakfast (it in Britain’s great contributon to world cuisine, after all_. Albion is a loving homage to the working men’s cafés of old, right down to the tomato-shaped ketchup dispensers. The ‘Full English’ – bacon, sausage, baked beans, black pudding, grilled tomato, mushrooms, eggs, toast and a cup of milky tea – is the most appropriate order.

Albion is a venue in Boundary, a project by the influential London designer and restaurateur Terence Conran. It also houses elegant hotel rooms and a terrific rooftop bar – and is an excellent starting point for an urban exploration. It is located right at the intersection of the financial centre of the City of London and the creative hub of Shoreditch, opposite a line of ‘pop-up’ shops in shipping containers, next to an urban driving range and just round the corner from hip members’ club Shoreditch House. This merging of worlds is a particularly east London dynamic.

Description: the Golden Heart

the Golden Heart

If you travel south from Boundary Street down Shoreditch High Street and turn off just before you hit the skyscrapers of the City, you’ll find Spitalfields Market. The distinctive geometry of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Christ Church Spitalfields stands at the end of Brushfield Road, just next to the Golden Heart, the favoured pub of Britart star Tracey Emin. There remains a Dickensian feel – adroitly conjured by the Jack the Ripper tour-guides who circulate the area, telling of the brutal murders that took place in these streets in the 19th century.

Description: Brick Lane, junction with Princelet Street, E1

Brick Lane, junction with Princelet Street, E1

Stroll at your own pace and you see the imprints of successive generations of enterprise. French Huguenot silk weavers settled here in the 18th century – their influence is seen in the beautiful houses on Princelet Street. When they had made their money and moved on, in came the Jewish traders, followed later by Bengali immigrants, who turned nearby Brick Lane into a miniature Bangla-town. Soon after them came the clubbers who still spill out of The Vibe Bar and 93 Feet East, and then came the gleaming steel and glass of capital as the City encroached. The result is eclectic – and surprisingly tranquil on a Saturday afternoon.

There is still a traditional traders’ market from Tuesday to Friday, where earthy stall – halders hawk antiques, trinkets and, increasingly, delicious artisanal food. The surrounding shops provide many excellent places to pick up some traditional British threads too – the dapper gentlemen of DS Dundee have put a particularly cool spin on British heritage fabrics.

Description: Hoxton square

Hoxton square

If you return to Shore ditch High Street and continue in the opposite direction, you’ll find yourself in Hoxton. This was the first district of East London really to make a name for itself in the late ‘90s, its reputation assured when gallerist Jay Jopling opened White Cube on Hoxton Square – Britart names like Damien Hirst, Raquib Shaw , and Jake and Dinos Chapman have exhibited there ever since.

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